The other day a close friend of mine put a small card in my hand. “God wanted me to give this to you,” she said. When she walked away, I eagerly looked at it.
“The Lord your God takes great delight in you.” Zeph. 3:17
Disappointed, I put it back into my wallet. I know, I know. Why would I be disappointed in that? What message from God could be better than that? But I didn’t believe it. I wanted a message from God, yes. But I wanted one that was believable to me. I wanted one that was personal, not something that could be given out to anyone, and I wanted one that could be true.
I was having a hard week, for reasons I won’t get into now. I don’t know what I expected or thought I needed when I looked at that card, but I didn’t feel like someone who could ever delight God. At the time I was in the midst of a pretty big pity party for myself, and I honestly think that the card would have been more believable to me if it had read: “Dena, stop being petty. Dena, get your shit together.” Don’t get me wrong, it’s not what I wanted the card to say. It’s simply what I thought I deserved. It’s what most people would think I deserved. I have fantastic husband, two great kids, parents who love me…honestly. What do I have to complain about? But like everyone else, there are hundreds of little hurts in life. Even old hurts, sometimes, that you forgot about and then something reminds you. Not only hurts, but worries and stress. Even self image problems. Sometimes it all seems to snowball and I get down on myself, but then I get down on myself for feeling down on myself.
For a long time in my life I felt like I had to earn God’s love. I had to be involved in church, I had to go to small groups, I had to do daily devotionals, I had to not do this, abstain from that, etc. I felt like if I stopped doing these things I was out of favor with God. I’d only feel loved when I felt like I was doing the right thing. The thing is, I thought I’d gotten over that. I don’t have to prove myself to God, and God doesn’t withhold his love because I can’t get it together. I know this, but old habits die hard. When my friend handed me that card, I thought that’s not possible. He’s not delighting in me. I’m worthy of rejection, exasperation, disappointment, eye rolling. In my mind, the people who delight God are the ones who are out tirelessly working with the homeless, the ones who genuinely show their love for others on a daily basis, the ones who see God in everyone and in everything, the ones who are doing the right thing.
Later that day I mentioned the card to Richard. I told him what it said and he was like, “That’s perfect! That’s exactly what you need to hear!” I had no idea what he was talking about. I felt like if God wanted to tell me anything, it would be to stop thinking about myself for a change.
But then I got to thinking. Why do I find this so hard to believe? Why can’t God delight in me, in the middle of my pity party. In the middle of my hurt, in my self loathing? Who says that God can’t delight in me during my hard times?
No one says He can’t, except for me. “You can only love me when I’m doing well, God. I won’t accept your love when I’m not.”
Well, what good is love then? If Love gets me through pain, if His love makes my pain and my life bearable, why don’t I just embrace it? Why do I question it or deny it?
So, to the person who gave me that card, thank you.
It was exactly what I needed to hear.